Tuesday 22nd July
I can’t remember another time when we’ve opened the side hatch before breakfast! It was shady enough for Dave to wash one side of Chuffed before we left – last time he used Carnauba Wax polish and is really pleased with the result. I did a bit of washing and we were away by 10. More than half the locks were in our favour or had someone on their way down, so although it was hot the work was fairly easy. Sewer Lock is pretty smelly – pretty, and very smelly! It’s still only mid-morning but you grab the shade when you can.
We didn’t have the opportunity to share till our last lock before lunch. There is a good weather-vane at Top Side lock -
We paused at the water point by the garage above bridge 143 – in the shade, thank goodness – for water and some milk. Soon we were into the outskirts of Berkhamstead. The Rising Sun pub by the eponymous lock is very pretty and if we were stopping we would go in like a shot! It has one of those signs we have seen before – “FREE BEER INSIDE”!
Unfortunately the small print says Free (House), Good (beer) and I can’t remember what was inside….
The next lock also has a pretty pub, and a large welcoming sign to the Port of Berkhamstead.
We waited here for a boat that had appeared at the previous lock to catch us up. They were on a mission to deliver their boat, which has been sold (boo) but will be collecting their new one (hurray!) soon after. Makes us wonder……
We moored at the park opposite Berko station for lunch. A good shady spot and somewhere for Meg to run around but very noisy from the trains. After lunch we pulled in (in the shade luckily) for Dave to go up to Jewsons to see if they had the spanner he needs to mend the galley taps – no, neither did the plumbers’ supplies next door – and carried on past Northchurch lock and grabbed the first patch of cool shade we would find. At Northchurch lock we met a Dutch couple on bikes who were taking a roundabout route to Malmesbury for the Womad festival later this week – hot work! then an Aussie couple, also on bikes who closed up for us. Although the Grand Union locks are heavy and hard work, they do have one redeeming feature, and that is the chunky bits to brace your feet on to open the gates! You can just see the bruise/graze on my right knee which has thankfully responded to treatment after yesterday's unexpected close encounter with the concrete! The tan’s coming on well too.
As we tied up for the evening, the guy from Fingall, with whom we shared several locks yesterday, came over for a chat before he set off again in the cool of the evening. Dave prepped and painted the port side gunwale as the runners and dog-walkers went past. This is an excellent mooring, very quiet if you ignore the East Coast main line!
12 locks, 4 and a half miles